September 5, 2018 at 11:09 pm #488Debi AlperParticipant
Good luck. You’ve had some excellent advice above. Good here, innit?September 5, 2018 at 11:56 pm #490KazGParticipant
Are you roiting on your wenbike, @jules? I am. 🙂September 6, 2018 at 12:01 am #491KazGParticipant
(Why didn’t my clever linky thing to @Jules work??)
And thank you for good wishes Philippa! Getting myself in quite a knot with all the limb crossing over here…Yes I agree about Jessie’s letter being unusually intimate and long winded and having two agents interested allowing that. Definitely. But I did find it interesting that Juliet said she liked a splash of humour and personality in a cover letter as well. But that’s a VERY fine line to tread, between that mere splash and coming over slightly deranged, hmmm?September 6, 2018 at 5:50 am #497KnicksParticipant
Good luck, PB! 😀September 6, 2018 at 6:48 am #499JaneShuffParticipant
Fingers crossed for you PB.
Kaz, I agree it is a very fine line. I think business like and to the point is good. They want to read fast and to be able to extract the important information from your letter asap and then get to the book. I am sure many people here have watched Piers Blofield (spelling?) on you tube showing how he deals with his submissions but if you haven’t it’s worth a look if only to see the speed with which he makes a decision.September 6, 2018 at 10:55 am #508
Yep, I agree about the fine line. Especially if you’ve never met the agent and don’t know how they might take it!
If you want more examples of the efficiency and expediency with which agents deal with submissions, the #TenQueries podcasts from the Manuscript Academy show this. It’s with American agents, but much still applies, I’d imagine.
You can access the podcasts here.September 6, 2018 at 10:56 am #509
Congratulations Pinkbelt, on submitting! I am keeping everything crossed for you xxSeptember 6, 2018 at 1:30 pm #525Mad IguanaParticipant
Good luck PB. You’ve done the hard part (getting yourself Out There), now comes the harder part (waiting).
On that Juliet/Jessie B cover letter, I felt very conflicted reading it, because while the letter was great and it obviously worked for her/them, there was definitely a level of familiarity and bravado (not sure if that’s the right term, but I can’t think of a better one) that I would feel exceptionally uncomfortable putting down on paper to an agent. It’s still unclear to me whether those were good things or bad, in the end, but my takeaway from it was that if the book had been bad, the cover letter would probably have been written off as being far too cocky (but clearly, the book was good as she’d already got representation, so she could get away with it).
What I definitely discovered was that it is entirely dependant on your own personality – you can’t carry off “cocky” in a letter if you’re not a cocky person, and that’s just nature. My cover letters will always, therefore, be filled with a mixture of self-deprecation and hope.
And in the end, we have to assume that a good book will break through no matter what.September 6, 2018 at 2:26 pm #561
Good luck with the submissions. This is a great thread.
RichardB – you were in my self-edit group and I remember your fab story. Good luck with dusting it down, giving it a polish and, hopefully, getting it back out there again. I do hope you do well. Certainly, you write well.
I took two years off writing after more than a few setbacks. It was useful to have a break and come back and write something completely different.September 6, 2018 at 2:42 pm #564RichardBParticipant
Aaah! Hi Jackie, nice to (virtually) see you again. The group died some while back, after carrying on for a year or two with just the three of us: me, Peter and Lins. I haven’t heard from either in yonks.
I’ve written another novel since, a rather dark crime thriller, but maybe it’s time to return to my first love (as it were).September 6, 2018 at 2:48 pm #565
I did go back and look a while ago and realised there was no longer anyone there (that sounds spooky!).
I wrote a very dark thriller after the one I featured on the SE course but have gone the other way with my current MS. Good luck with returning to your rather lovely first love.September 6, 2018 at 2:53 pm #567RichardBParticipant
Spooky? Yes, on my occasional visits I used to feel like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.September 6, 2018 at 4:29 pm #598
As you lifted the cobwebs. 😀September 7, 2018 at 9:11 pm #739PinkbeltParticipant
Okay, this is not happening but I have a question I’m not sure about: If you have submitted to an agent and they did get back and offer representation, how exactly do you let another agent know?
I’ve often wondered this. So let’s say i have one agent that has a turnaround time of two weeks and one with a turnaround of twelve weeks. How do you let them know about your offer of representation, to give them chance to read if it takes them twelve weeks to open your original email?September 7, 2018 at 9:28 pm #743DaedalusParticipant
I suppose all you can do is send a follow-up email to say they should disregard the submission?
Interesting question though. Not sure what the best solution isSeptember 23, 2018 at 9:02 pm #1727
All, just wondering: in this thread there were 75 posts in the space of 10 days. Then nothing, and abruptly – the last post was on 7th.
Was there a system crash?
Anyway, maybe it can be resuscitated?
I’ve read the entire thread, and agree there’s a lot of useful stuff. Thanks to those who’ve put links in.
I’m in that submitting period, devising a plan for novel 2, but lacking the momentum to get on with writing it, as my thoughts are still with novel 1, and pondering what mistakes I’ve probably made.
Here are a few random thoughts based on things I’ve read in this thread.
* Twitter is very useful for keeping up-to-date with the writing world. Suggest anyone in the process of submitting at least follows agents and other writers. (I think I get too involved in other subjects).
* Book doctors are paid to critique, but might not be sufficiently critical for fear of bruising egos and confidence. I asked mine to be very harsh, and she did a great job, but I still could have done with more agent-type pulling apart.
* I have mixed feelings about following a lot of the writing advice that’s freely bandied around. I suscribe to Harry Bingham’s weekly letters, and find them very good. His latest one about ‘creative writing course type prose is spot on. I would say, follow advice if you really need it, but beware losing your individual voice.
* About agents: I wish there was a greater range, regarding class, gender and age. I’m currently trawling through all the agencies, and it’s really noticeable how much young women dominate. I attended the FOW18 talk with Imogen Pelham and Jo Jakeman about agent / author relationships. I tried to prompt Imogen to talk about more diverse relationships, but she didn’t take the bait. Maybe if the agencies tried moving out of London …September 24, 2018 at 7:19 am #1729JonathanParticipant
I find Twitter is an invaluable resource for at least finding agents and getting some idea of what they want. Hashtags such as #MSWL (manuscript wish list, web homed at http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com) can be helpful, as can various “pitching events” such as #Pitchwars, #SFFPIT, #DVPit, #PitMad and so on. It’s not hard to figure out how to use, and you can always ask here. But it’s worth it because you never know what you might find. I managed to get a free edit for my opening 3,000 words from Jeni Chappelle from there.
The writing community on Twitter is really good and seems to have developed a reputation for itself as kinder, nicer, and altogether more helpful than just about everyone else on that platform.
Of course I say all this – yet no agent! 😉September 24, 2018 at 7:58 am #1732John S AltyParticipant
This is a very interesting thread. Of no direct interest to me, I’m not looking for an agent, but it’s heartwarming to see Den dwellers giving their knowledge so freely. Very generous. Give yourselves a pat on the back.September 24, 2018 at 9:35 am #1733
@Jonathan Thanks for the site link, but http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com is only for US agents. I wish we had one just for UK agents.
I agree that the Twitter writing community is basically friendly, but I have to say there is a strong feminist element embedded there who take every opportunity to bash male authors. Yes, I get the impression that the criticism is often deserved, but it goes OTT.
My own personal experience is that many female writers / authors will not follow back men, and I suspect it’s because of bad experiences.
Unfortunately, Twitter has more than its fair share of trolls.
Good luck with the agent hunt.
I understand your genre is fantasy?
@Johnalty Long may this continue.September 24, 2018 at 11:10 am #1734ElleParticipant
@jonathan — I agree, I found the twitter writing community really open and helpful. I follow a few writers who like me submit short stories and flash and everybody is always happy to promote each others work and give feedback, I also follow quite a few literary journal. I must be following the right people because I’ve never come across any kind of trolls in the writing community (on twitter).
I also find that following agents you think might be right for you, can give a good idea of what they like and what books they published and assess if your work would be of interest to the.September 24, 2018 at 11:34 am #1735AthelstoneModerator
My experience of Twitter is that the impression one gets of its nature, for example whether there is a particular faction behaving in a particular way, is very much dependent on where you go and who you follow but also what you regard as appropriate or excessive. Personally, I have never noticed that I am not followed back; if anything I am the guilty party when I simply forget.
I do agree that we could do with more resources in the UK around what agents are looking for. I don’t suppose it would impact on my subject matter or way of writing to be honest, but it would help those who are more commercially minded, and it would also help everybody looking for representation. There is Agentmatch (formerly Agent Hunter) from Jericho Writers, but this is only available with a JW subscription, which isn’t cheap.September 24, 2018 at 12:25 pm #1737
I find Twitter really useful. Keeping track of publishing news was the reason I finally succumbed and joined it! I guess the closest we can do to a centralised MSWL is just to search the hashtag. Other than that, it’s the slow business of googling each agent for recent interviews as well as their agency page.
I’m like Ath – I don’t really notice who ‘follows back’, but I hadn’t noticed a male-excluding tone, although yes, there is a recent focus on women supporting women in an industry where there’s still a gender gap, so to speak. There’s also more signal boosting for under-rep authors too – non-white, non-straight etc. Which I love because it helps me find authors who possibly aren’t being promoted as hard as they could be.
I also follow a lot of political, journalism, ethics and science people too, where the trolling is definitely worse than in the literary twittersphere!
@alanr interesting comments re agent diversity – yeah there definitely seems to be more early-ish career women agents than male, not sure why that is. Although that evens out further up the seniority, I think. Perhaps submission opportunities are skewed because the younger agents are more likely to be actively building their lists, whereas the more senior agents are possibly not. But also, and this is something that bothers me – yeah there really is a bias towards upper-ish middle class London based white agents (and authors, of course) isn’t there? There was some survey done last year about the proportion of agents that went to comprehensive school and the results were … intimidating for someone who *did* go to one! There do seem to be more schemes appearing to support less well off people getting into publishing, which has got to be a good thing.September 24, 2018 at 12:55 pm #1741
@raine, of course everyone has their own experience of Twitter, and no two are alike. If a writer follows me, I follow back – the only exception being those who are on Twitter, not to socialise, but to promote their own self-pub books.
Kit de Waal and Kerry Hudson are two authors who are currently working hard to do something about diversity. They recognise that the industry is dominated by middle class, white Londoners, and the WC is effectively excluded. Being a northerner with WC roots, I support them wholeheartedly.
I also want to say that I have enormous respect for anyone who works through a Masters degree, whatever their origins. And most agents seem to be qualified in this way.
Yes, it’s true about agent age. Many of the more senior agents, men and women, are closed to submissions, which IMO is a crying shame.
Incidentally, at FOW18 I deliberately chose a man and a woman for my 1-to-1s. What happened? The man didn’t turn up, and was substituted by a woman (to his credit, he did leave me some notes).September 24, 2018 at 3:38 pm #1752
Oh I love what KIt de Waal is doing – she is being so incredibly supportive and generous setting up scholarships and all that. One admirable lady. *swoons* I’d not really kept track of Kerry Hudson, but I’ll check her out.
That’s true re lots of them having MAs, I guess it hadn’t really registered. I’d never think anyone has become an agent *just* because of their background – and you’re right – having worked for a Masters (or even an undergrad degree really) kind of negates background anyway. It sounds like a lot of the barriers to people getting starting in publishing is the sheer cost of living in London and the poor pay of those entrance level jobs. Living so far away (rural Scotland), I cant even begin to fathom how anyone can afford to live in London! :-OSeptember 24, 2018 at 4:30 pm #1755
Picking up on Pinkbelts question a few comments back (yes, what happened on this thread??) – what to say to other agents if you get an offer of representation…
The courteous thing to do is to contact those other agents and let them know – before you accept – that you’ve had an offer. Those agents should then hurry up and get back to you, potentially with their own offers, which you can then choose from.
(Incidentally, this was the basis on which Jessie Burton approached Juliet Mushems, hence the (over) familiarity.)
However, if you definitely know you want to accept that offer of rep, and know you wouldn’t sign with any other agent, you could contact the rest and withdraw your sub (They might be disappointed they didn’t get a look in, but at least you havent wasted their time)
The rude thing to do would be to accept representation without in any way informing the others you’ve subbed to. If another agent subsequently came back to you with rep, then you have to say ‘oh, sorry, I’ve already accepted someone else,’ and that’s really annoying for them to have wasted their time on a no-go.September 24, 2018 at 4:45 pm #1756
Oh – and it’s worth emailing the other agents with ‘Offer of Representation’ in the subject line. This will make sure they pick up your email and act on it.
This post has guidance on all kinds of follow-up emails that you might have to send…September 24, 2018 at 4:48 pm #1757
Oh, and don’t withdraw other subs till you have signed the contract with the agent (in case it falls through)September 25, 2018 at 9:42 am #1770
There’s a tweet today by a published author saying a ‘budding author’ (unnamed) believes he/she should copyright a synopsis before sending it out.
Does anyone do this?September 25, 2018 at 9:51 am #1771
Gosh, no @alanr! That seems fairly ott and kind of paranoid. Plus a lot of hassle, right? Spending time and money to copyright something on the small chance that an agent will like it, and even smaller chance that they can be bothered stealing a promising idea rather than just requesting a full ms.
Who was the published author? I’m intrigued about their motivations…September 25, 2018 at 10:10 am #1773John S AltyParticipant
An author’s work is automatically copyrighted as soon as it’s produced. Registering copyright is not necessary. All registration does is make legal pursuit of a plagiarist a little easier.
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